What is Gotu Kola? Why is it crowned as the herb of ‘longevity’?
Gotu Kola (Sinhalese for cone-leaf) is celebrated in the timeless texts of wellness and Ayurveda as the herb of longevity or the herb of enlightenment, and one of its names is the Tiger Herb. The legend has it that so powerful is its healing properties that tigers would rub themselves on these leaves to heal from injuries or wounds. The legend aside, this herb holds a place of pride in Ayurvedic pharmacopeia for its immense grounding physiological and mental benefits including purification of blood, better memory, relaxant for the mind, promoting longevity, better concentration and reduction in pigmentation, among others.
The Sushruta Samhita, in fact glorifies the use of Gotu Kola (scientific name-Centella Asiatica) or Brahmi (not to be mistaken with bacopa monneira which is also called Brahmi) as one that can, “give a favorable turn to one’s fortune, impart a lotus-like bloom [to the cheeks] with perpetual youth, unparalleled intellectual faculties, and a life that would cover a period of three centuries of song and sunshine.”
Gotu Kola is a super herb for its long-lasting all-round benefits for the body and mind, and researchers have started exploring the myriad applications of the herb only in the recent times, though the herb finds important mention in medicinal texts that date back thousands of years, such as Sushrut Samhita and Charaka Samhita.
1. Good for the brain
Gotu Kola is called the friend of the brain, which grounds you and helps you calm down. It enhances memory, improves learning, supports cognitive function, and nourishes the nervous system. In fact, Sri Lankan folklores attribute the impressive memory of the elephants and their long lives to their consumption of Gotu kola in the wild. It is also known to have antidepressant and relaxing properties due to the presence of compounds called triterpenes. It also balances the amino acid levels in the system that supports antidepressant activity, studies have shown. Studies also showed, its usage reduced stress hormone (corticosterone) levels.
Gotu Kola or the Indian pennywort is also known to boost sattva (purity), in Ayurveda that is it helps raise one’s awareness. Its use in massage oils and masks blesses one with the rare combination of heightened awareness and a simultaneous sense of profound relaxation. Studies have shown, its use ‘increases the cerebral levels of GABA,’ which makes it popular as an anxiolytic (reduces anxiety) and anticonvulsant.
For its deeply relaxing and soothing virtues, Gotu kola is one of the key ingredients that go into making our famed Shankara’s Calming Body Oil. This ultra-nourishing body oil is the perfect remedy for relaxing the body and mind at the end of a long day. Rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and moisturizing ingredients, the oil is filled with essential oils that help soothe emotions and relax the body. The oil is a sensually consuming blend of time-tested herbs, essential oils, and actives including sesame; macadamia nut; almond; avocado; hempseed; vitamin E Tocopherol; evening primrose; sandalwood; borage; cardamom; Gotu kola; Shatavari; dashmoola; aniseed; ginger; bala; shavegrass; rose and calendula.
2. Reduces scarring and pigmentation in the skin
When it comes to skincare, the herb has been celebrated for millennia for its skin brightening, wound healing and de-scarring properties. Today it is used in plenty of sun care and anti-blemish skincare products for its collagen-boosting, wound healing and anti-pigmentation properties.
A 2013 study shows, it can also reduce the appearance of stretch marks due to the presence of terpenoids that boost collagen production in the body. More collagen translates to better and tighter skin texture in general.
According to a study done by South Korean researchers in 2015, wound dressing that uses Gotu kola was found to heal different types of wounds in rats including irregular tears, clean cuts, trauma, and infections.
The ancient texts go as far as to say that Gotu kola preparations ‘impart a celestial glow’ to the skin.
3. More hydrating
Application of Gotu kola combined with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid can hydrate the skin much longer by reducing water loss. According to a 2017 study, when a fluid made using hyaluronic acid, Gotu kola extract and glycerine were applied to the arms of female subjects, the fluid was found to be more effective in hydrating the skin longer and there was relatively much less water loss, which points to the hydrating potential of gotu kola-based moisturizers and serums, like Shankara’s Moisturizing Mask that comes with the cumulative richness and impact of herbs like gotu kola, honey, hyaluronic acid, ashwagandha, neem cardamom, amino acids, among others.
Soothing honey, oat flour, and avocado oil form the base for this hydrating, nourishing, moisturizing mask that leaves skin satiny smooth. Fatigued skin is rejuvenated while the rich oils target dryness in mature skin for a younger, dewy glow.
4. For the perfect detox
One of Gotu kola’s amazing benefits is it helps deal with the toxicity left behind by certain types of antibiotics in the body. Gotu kola helps clear out toxins by supporting the lymphatic system. A more efficient lymphatic system helps the toxin-carrying lymph move more effectively through body tissues. This way it also strengthens the dhatus or body tissues, according to Ayurveda.
5. Promotes longevity
According to another legend, Li Ching-Yun, a Tai Chi Master attributes his long life of 256 years to the regular use of Gotu kola in his routine and classical Ayurvedic texts mention that people could live as long as 500 years, with the consumption of Gotu kola. As far-fetched as that seems, the presence of ample amount of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, minerals, and necessary vitamins in Gotu kola lend themselves in favor of the argument for longevity. Gotu Kola revitalizes the brain and nervous system, according to research, increases attention span, fights oxidative stress, has neuroprotective properties and fights aging.
Apart from these benefits, Gotu kola also fights gastric ulcers/lesions by strengthening the gastric mucosal barrier. It is known to have pain reducing and anti-inflammatory; anti-viral, and radioprotective properties too.